Should, Should Not

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after a poem by Czeslaw Milosz

A woman should not love a man, but if she does,
she should keep the child of their breath close to her heart.

A woman should not love a man, but if she does,
her house should be clean and tidy, her dinner-pots

full. Her garden should smell of lilacs and roses.
A man, when he loves a woman, should not use words

that are dear to her, or split open her heart to
find what’s inside. She should never look over her

shoulder when crossing over his threshold (or so
our mothers teach us). When she crawls into his bed

at night, she may memorize his sleeping face as
a reminder of what will not last forever.

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Love in the Time of Dinosaurs © 1980-1986, 2000-2007, 2013, 2017 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. May not be reprinted or excerpted without written permission. Please do not support piracy of Intellectual Property.

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